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A quick word from Bobbi Dumas, your host.
Hi everyone! Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month. You can find out more about this fun, month long event here. And check out all the great authors taking part this year on the calendar, here.
The theme this year is The Romance Of Reading, The Magic Of Books and we have an awesome assortment of writers – both romance and mainstream fiction authors – sharing about books, reading, romance & magic. I hope you’ll visit everyday.
(Also, be sure to check in to The Romance Of Reading FB page, where one of the RARM authors will be hosting the page each day in August. Today Alex Bledsoe will be on the page.)
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Felicia Grossman – Discovering Stories That Represent
My father read me Treasure Island when I was four-years-old. It’s a true story. My father, who passed way a few weeks ago, was never a child-oriented person. Angelina Ballerina and Francis were never going to be his style. Most people would say that the book was wildly inappropriate for a preschooler, but one of the wonderful things about my father was that he had endless faith in my ability to appreciate art that was good and wonderful and magical, no matter how old I was, whether it was Rossini or Sloan or Stevenson.
And Treasure Island was magical. It was the scariest, most exciting story I’d ever heard. I mean we’re talking about pirates and treasurer and mutinies. It gave me my first three-dimensional villain in Long John Silver and an entire cast of flawed but at times heroic characters, meaty parts. The cast lacked diversity, racial, ethnic and gender. And it could’ve used more romance (see imaginary “Jocelyn” Hawkins/Dr. Livesey/potentially-redeemable-Long-John-Silver-love-triangle I had going in my mind), but still transported me.
My father and I would go on to other stories, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and A Tale of Two Cities. All thrilling, and exciting, but again note the continued lack of diversity, of female POVs and three-dimensional female characters (and don’t get me started about the rare Jewish character you get in the “classics.” Let’s just say I’m still shuddering over Great Expectations, Oliver Twist and every single book Edith Wharton ever wrote).
Seeing both the wonders of these books and their limits made me want to not only invent my own broader stories, but seek out better and different representation outside and beyond my own experience. If they weren’t representing me, who else weren’t they representing? And who was going to give me those books?
My mother helped, putting The Year of The Boar and Jackie Robinson as well as Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry in my hands. Additionally, I engaged in some “self-help” swiping her copies of The Joy Luck Club and Their Eyes Were Watching God. Also, in my mother’s nightstand, I discovered the heroines who really looked like me and who I could grow-up to be in Nora Ephron’s Heartburn, Susan Isaacs’ After All the Years, and Jennifer Weiner’s Good in Bed.
And, in my grandparents’ news store in Atlantic City, on a wire rack, I discovered all the books with the heroines with glamorous dresses, the world of romance, in all its magic and glory. The books where anyone can find an HEA, can be a full, real, magical complex main character, not just people who look like Jim Hawkins. Well, we can find and read those stories provided we are, as readers, willing to be open to them, willing to slip into their heads, the same way generations have been unquestionably willing to for Pip and Tom Sawyer. There are so many stories out there, so much magic to appreciate, so many possibilities. It’s our job to find them, discover them, share them, and demand they receive their due.
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2019 RARM Questions:
Tell us about a time in your life that felt magical to you.
One of the most magical times for me was when my eldest was a baby. She used to have her first feeding of the day at around 5:15 in the morning, right before I got dressed to go to work. My husband was asleep and the streets were quiet and it was the beginning of sunrise. It was as if the world was just the two of us. I would cuddle and talk to her, sometimes read, sometimes sing, sometimes just talk, but it would be our special time.
Tell us about a book that was magical for you.
I will say over and over that After All These Years by Susan Isaacs, which I read when I was in sixth grade, even though the heroine is a forty-eight year-old divorcee (accused of murdering her ex-husband) was magical for me. It was the first time I got to see someone who I could one day be, or more, someone who in certain ways resembled my mother, get an HEA.
Tell us about a “magical moment” in your writing or your career?
I think my magical moment was when I decided to write Appetites & Vices. I had been writing romance for awhile, but without Jewish characters. I had just finished reading a perfectly nice regency with a shy, wallflower Cinderella-like heroine who was the daughter of a vicar and in genteel poverty etc. and all I could think was, no one I was descended from could ever be her. Except, I so wanted to be the heroine in the corset and ballgown. I asked what would someone who I could’ve been be like as a romance heroine? And Ursula Nunes was born.
For writers who use magical aspects in their books, what attracts you to those elements? For those of you who don’t, are there specific themes or elements you’re attracted to and find yourself going back to? Why do these resonate with you?
I write messy, flawed, characters, especially heroines because to me, surviving, and growing and changing is magical. There are wonderful, kind, flawless people in the world, but most of us aren’t that, and I think it’s important to show that you can be enough without being perfect.
Creativity is a kind of magical experience. What inspires you, keeps you going, helps you when you lose focus, etc.?
My heroines inspire me. My imperfect, striving, flailing, often failing heroines, who get about again and again inspire me. Giving them and all the people they represent HEAs keeps me going. To show that the strivers, the ones who try to do better, or who start way back, who don’t have all the advantages or who have the stumbling blocks can win too.
Drawing – Felicia is generously giving away one e-copy of Appetites & Vices to one reader and one e-Arc of Dalliances & Devotion to another.
The giveaway is open to anyone who can receive an e-book as a gift through their favorite e-book retailers (so hopefully open to most readers).
To enter, leave a comment below in response to Felicia’s post. Open until August 13, 2019 11:59 PM EST.
All commenters will also be entered to win a bundle of books from the Week 1 participating authors. Must comment by 8/14/19 11:59pm Eastern.
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Felicia Grossman is a historical romance and lover of eclairs. Born and raised in Delaware (first-stater-for-life), she now lives in Cleveland with her spouse, kids, puppy and perpetually disappointed elder-dog. She is the author of Appetites & Vices and Dalliances & Devotion (August 2019), both with Carina Press.
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